Panoramas of the Arctic appeared on Yandex.Maps

    Now on Yandex.Maps you can see the most northern territory of Russia - the Franz Josef Land archipelago. For example, gigantic glaciers or picturesque mountains .

    My name is Olga Parshina, and I am a specialist in shooting spherical panoramas of neq4 , a partner of Yandex. In August 2013, as part of a scientific expedition, I took panoramas of 11 islands of the archipelago in 42 days. In this post I want to tell you about what the summer Arctic looks like.

    On an expedition to Franz Josef Land, I was among those few who were driven not by scientific interest, but by a desire to visit the very far north of Russia. The remaining participants represented the US National Geographic Society, the Russian Arctic Park, and the Russian Geographical Society. Each of them is an expert in his field: some studied microbes, others were in charge of walruses, and others were responsible for archeology and geology. This is not the first time a purely scientific society has been launched into the Arctic, this time as part of the Virgin Seas project.

    July 26, 2013 Polaris - our cruise ship, built specifically for sailing in the Arctic waters - left Murmansk and headed for the nearest island of the archipelago, Alexandra Land.

    The expedition route included several key points at which it was necessary to conduct research, but everything was decided on the spot - depending on the weather. It happened that we approached the island, but could not land due to the heavy wind, so we had to swim further.

    During the expedition we lived on a ship. They woke up at eight, had breakfast, and then were distributed in groups and sent to the ground. Finished work, as a rule, by dinner, other groups returned only late in the evening.

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    On the island of Hayes is the northernmost branch of the Russian Post. Nearby live three meteorologists. And this is almost the entire population of the archipelago, not counting the polar bears and employees of the only Nagurskaya military unit on the island of Alexandra Land.

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    On the island of Hooker, in the vicinity of Tikhaya Bay, there used to be the first Soviet research station and the first Arctic observatory led by the famous Arctic explorer Ivan Papanin. Now there are only empty houses on the island. Some of them are almost a hundred years old.

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    On the island of Gowen, our geomorphologists found the parking lot of the polar explorer Irwin Baldwin, who stormed the archipelago in the early XX century. Although it was previously believed that his expedition had never visited this island. True, only his other parking lot was captured - on the island of Alger.

    Animal bones are an essential part of the archipelago's landscape. They are everywhere. Here it is, for example, the skeleton of a polar bear.

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    Polar bears are the largest predators of Franz Josef Land. Having no enemies in their natural habitat, they are practically not afraid of anything and try to stick their curious nose everywhere. To protect against attacks, each group was always accompanied by an armed guard. And although we almost never saw bears, experienced researchers liked to repeat: "If you do not see a polar bear, this does not mean that it is not there."

    The second largest inhabitants of the archipelago - walruses - unfortunately, did not fall into panoramas. These are extremely shy animals, ready to rush with all the rookery to the hilt from the slightest rustle. The monopoly on their study went to zoologists, and they were extremely reluctant to meet any attempts to take at least a few shots, not to mention letting me get the equipment and stand with him in full growth.
    Franz Josef Land with its landscapes resembles the landscapes of alien planets - columnar basalts stick out from the earth, and mountains with huge ice caps rise around.

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    Here and there small streams flow - glaciers melt in the warm season. By the way, summer on the archipelago lasts for nothing - a month, two on the strength.

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    The first pictures for panoramas were taken in early August - you can still see green grass on them. When we returned, there was almost nothing in the same places - flowers and mosses fade quickly enough. Then everything draws ice and a long winter begins.

    The Arctic is often called the kitchen of the weather. You understand this only when you are there. For some five minutes, the direction of the wind changes dramatically, from somewhere low clouds appear that fly at an unimaginable speed, and it begins to snow. But most of the time we were lucky with the weather - the sun was shining, and the temperature was in the range from zero to five degrees Celsius.

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    whole expedition lasted 42 days. 42 days without communication with the outside world and in the conditions of nature is so wild that the presence of a person in it seemed a deviation from the norm. It was the longest expedition to Franz Josef Land since the discoverers.

    In the end, we still fell into a storm that lasted all three days of our journey to Murmansk. The storm was so strong that the instruments and utensils did not hang on the tables, the paintings swayed on the walls, and the equipment constantly strove to tip over. Rare brave men who climbed onto the deck could observe gigantic waves. But for the Arctic, such weather is commonplace, and Polaris came out unscathed and not out of such troubles.

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    In total, during the expedition I was able to shoot on 11 islands. The preparation of the material took 60 days and 4500 frames. The result was 255 panoramas. Now you can take a virtual walk where people are rare: to see harsh islands and visit abandoned buildings, whose walls still remember the beginning of the last century.

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